Prisoners on an island.

In 2011, I set off on a mammoth trip to photograph wildlife, people and landscapes in over 10 different countries. My adventure started in the tropical paradise of Sri Lanka and finished in the humid misty rainforests of Borneo.

My main objective was to capture images of the stunning range of wildlife found in these countries. Not only in the jungles but also in urban environment’s which are slowly swallowing up the natural landscapes all around the world.

Not all of my photography experiences were positive. When I was traveling in South East Asia I started to come across the illegal pet trade, especially primates.

Seeing them in the wild in all their spender is magical but seeing them chained and caged up for the benefit of the owners saddened and frustrated me.

The first location I came across monkeys was on an island off the cost of Sihanoukville in Cambodia. I spent a week on this beautiful island, then the island was in the slow transformation from fishing village to an international tourist destination.

Young boy swims in the warm waters on an island in Cambodia. Whilst his father sets the nets for another nights fishing.

Whilst I was relaxing on this island recovering from a badly infected foot, after a diving accident, I slowly got to know some of the locals and was invited into their homes. I explained I was a photographer from England and was excited to photograph as much wildlife as possible. I also explained my passion for mammals and monkeys.

I asked if any monkeys lived on the island in the thick jungles behind their homes. One local took me into his house and showed me small dusty area under his house. In this location, there was a mass of human waste from plastic containers to unwanted food. Here I saw two monkeys both chained up by their necks. One was a big female and the other was younger money with an arm missing.

Young Long-tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis)

The monkeys were Long-tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis). Once common in Cambodia these Macaques currently suffer heavy hunting pressure for use in the vivisection trade. The monkeys were left to feed on rotten fruit and vegetables. I was told they were caught in a large net which is cast into the trees to catch monkeys and birds and that’s how the smallest monkey lost it arm.

After seeing these monkeys I went on two treks through the jungle to try and find any in wild after an hour or in the sweltering heat I gave up and headed back to the village without spotting any.

The smaller of the two would get extremely nervous and flip out of control when approached by the owners of the house. A right wire traces was constantly around its neck and it seemed as the money had lost its mind it was displaying extremely unusual behavior.

I visited these monkeys to photograph them on two occasions and each time I felt upset. I had seen and photographed long-tailed macaques in the wild before and seem them scurrying from tree to tree and foraging for food is a beautiful sight. So to see these two beautiful monkeys chained up was a sight. The people who kept this animal captive in these extremely bad conditions didn’t see any wrongdoing in this. They thought the animals were happy and glad to be there.

I left the island wondering what would happen to the monkeys especially with the rapid building which was taking place. It’s a shame to see animals treated so bad and it made me think how many other monkeys were being kept in such dire conditions.

Chained to a tire.

On my travels, I have come across some heartbreaking images of animals being treated badly and none more so than this monkey in the images. I was traveling up through Vietnam when I booked into a guest house in a place called Nha Trang which is a coastal city and capital of Khánh Hòa Province, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam. I was spending three days there with my girlfriend and her brother and we booked into a guest house.

The guest house was family run by two brothers, as we were booking in I could see a small shape through some frosted glass which was moving around. I asked one of the brothers what it was and he smiled and slowly opened the door. In front of me was a young macaque monkey chained to a tire. I have never seen such a scared and upset animal in my life. I quizzed one of the brothers about the monkey asking where he got it etc. I was told it was stolen from an island in Vietnam by casting a net into the trees at night. I’m pretty sure it would be monkey island which is near Hay long Bay in the north of Vietnam.

These animals are sold on the black market across Vietnam and much of South East Asia. After watching the monkey for a while it was clear that this monkey had been ill-treated by the owners. At one point he started spraying the monkey with a hosepipe which sent him into a fit almost.

I was really affected by this and every day I would buy fresh fruit for the monkey which he would eat very quickly as I think he was fed on scraps which were left over from the dinner etc. After leaving this Hna Trang and traveling up the coast I would often think about this poor monkey trapped and chained by its neck on a small outdoor area by the side of this quest house I wonder what it was thinking and how unhappy he was.

I did speak to the brother when I left and asked them if they thought the monkey was happy. Their response was, of course, why wouldn’t he be.

It’s not for me to judge the brothers Vietnam as it is a world away from England and things work differently in different parts of the world, but I judge how they treated him and how they couldn’t see how unhappy this animal was, just to keep them entertained.

It’s a shame to see such a beautiful young animal held against its will in poor conditions, I love seeing macaques in the wild swinging from tree to tree, seeing an animal like this is really heartbreaking.

Traditional Sea fishing in the Indian Ocean

This year we decided to have a more relaxed holiday and instead of backpacking around the humid jungles and cities of South East Asia or the baron and ancient vistas of Iceland. We decided on an all-inclusive two-week break on the island of Mauritius.
At the last minute, I decided to pack my camera equipment and did some quick research on the wildlife I could expect to encounter on this small and beautiful island.

I told my partner in Advance I wouldn't spend my time chasing bugs and wildlife all over the island to take photos, I would just sit by the pool all day and drink cocktails and maybe do a couple of day trips...

...Each morning we'd awake and I would drink a coffee from our balcony and look out to the horizon and see five or six tiny one or two-person fishing boats dotted about on the horizon.

Setting off early in the morning from Belle Mar Beach.

One fisherman would arrive on his small old fashioned motorbike each morning at 7:15 on the dot! He would then pack a small amount assembled of items on to his small white boat before slowly dispersing off to the edge of the lagoon where his boat would be a tiny dot. The reef separated the flat lagoon from eastbound turbulent seas which would throw up huge crashing waves each day.

Dhramdeo Meetooa and his fathers have fished the Indian ocean for hundreds of years.

At 11:00 am his beat-up white boat would arrive back on the shore and he would cast off his Clement block an anchor into the clear blue shallows. He would slowly get off the old boat and pack his catch into a small blue plastic container, greet some locals and finally ride off down the beach on his bike.

After a week of staying at the resort, I was sat having a beer on my balcony and I saw the small white fishing boat returning from a morning at sea. I quickly grabbed my camera with my 24-105mm lens and ran down to the beach. I waded out slowly out to my waste in the water keeping my equipment above my head as not to get it wet. I asked if I could please take some photos of him and some of the fish he had caught. He smiled and nodded and held up two octopuses and let me photograph them.

Two Octopus caught from one of his 7 cages.

Slowly in a conversation of broken English with lots of gesturing with our hands, we started to talk about his catch and how much in Mauritian rupees he would earn for these octopuses. He kindly explained each octopus could fetch around 200 rupees each, so both together would be 400 or so rupees depending on who would buy them in the local market. In UK pounds this would be 8 pounds. He explained octopus was a good catch and didn't happen that often. We talked for a few more minutes which was quite hard as the language barrier was proving frustrating. Quite unexpectedly he asked if I would like to spend the next morning out with him whilst he caught his fish and I could photograph him at work.

It takes great skill to navigate the dangerous reefs on Belle Mar

He explained that he would set 6 houses which translated were cages, the night before and the following day he would seek them out and pull them aboard and see if the gods had been kind to him.

I immediately responded yes and asked how much he would charge for this amazing opportunity. He responded, " You tell me". I was stumped for a few seconds then worked out that if he had made 400 rupees for the two octopus then if I offered 500 rupees his day was covered and anything extra he caught would be a bonus.

Searching for one of his cages on the bottom of the reef.

That number was put forward and he agreed. We arranged to meet by his boat on the beach at 7:15 and he told me his name was Dhramdeo Meetooa. The next morning under a brilliant sunrise I sat on the beach waiting with my camera equipment for Dhramedo to arrive. As on previous days, dead on 7:15 am he arrived on his old bike. After we greeted each other we quickly boarded his white boat and pushed off from the shallows and headed out to deeper water.

Balance is key when using a small fishing boat at sea.

Dhramedo had a long pole to propel the boat forward almost like how gondolas are used in Venice. How he found his cages used a great amount of skill and intelligence as the sea to me looked completely disorientating and it all looked the same. He managed to navigate across reefs and sandbars to the exact spot the cages were with ease and speed.

Collecting a cage from the ocean floor.

Once at the location, he lowered another pole with a hook into the water and slowly pulled up a cage and lifted it aboard his boat. Some cages were almost empty and other cages contained fish of all different color and shapes. Some of the fish I recognised like the Threadfin butterflyfish, Moorish Idol, and the Sergeant Major Fish.

A Moorish Idol fish is just one of the many colourful fish caught in his cage.

The bait in the cages ranged from part of an octopus which was extremely smelly and looked like black paste to dead fish. He explained that octopus paste is the best bait possible. He also used bright green weed which small fish fed on.

Using part of an octopus as bait is a proven way to catch fish.

It was interesting to see all the bait used was organic and from the sea, so it cost nothing it was recycling at its best. Towards the end of the fishing trip, Dhramedo spotted a shell inside the cage, pulled it out and smashed it on the wooden seat of his boat and a huge hermit crab which was brightly color appeared! He quickly stabbed it on a long metal pole and put it back in the cage for bait. I later found out the name for this crab is a Strawberry hermit crab. After collecting the 8 cages we returned to the beach and we said our goodbyes and shook hands It was a fantastic experience to spend a morning traditionally fishing with a local. Finally, I asked if I could buy him a gift from the UK and send to him to say thank you. His response was a Liverpool football shirt in Extra large.

Navigating the ocean through landmarks and reefs.

After his morning at sea, Dhramedo would make the short journey back to his family. He would spend the afternoon working with his wife on a small plantation growing garlic which she would sell at the local market. Dhramedo was 60 years old and had a wife and two children. Both of his sons worked locally in hotels nearby. Dhramedo came from a family of fishermen as his father had taught him to fish and navigate the sea.

A moment to reflect.

This experience showed me that a fisherman can catch enough food for his family to eat and enough to sell to the market to make extra money. It wasn’t fishing on a huge scale where the seas are plundered and Unsustainable fishing is damaging fish stocks and the environment. it's sustainable fishing on a small scale whereby the fisherman understands the environment and respects it and it has been that way for hundreds of years.

Dhramdeo Meetooa a masterful fisherman.

This section of my website shows the journey's undertaken to achieve the final image. It consists of urban wildlife on my doorstep in Bristol to far-flung locations like Borneo, India, and Laos.

Tiger, Tiger

A few years ago I went in search of one of the most beautiful animals in the world, the majestic Bengal Tiger. This search took me to India, which has an estimated 2,226 tigers (2014).The starting place of this adventure was the hot and crowded city of Delhi. After a couple of days in Delhi and a nasty case of food poisoning, I made the trip to Sway Madhopur by train. The journey lasted over 8 hours and covered 375 km.

From outside Sway Madhopur station, I caught a taxi to Ranthambore a National Park, this is a vast wildlife reserve in Rajasthan. The park is a former royal hunting ground and home to tigers, leopards and marsh crocodiles. Its landmarks include the imposing 10th-century Ranthambore Fort, on a hilltop, and the Ganesh Mandir temple.

Day 1.

I awoke at 5 am full of enthusiasm and excitement with the anticipation of seeing a tiger in the wild. We had been told the park tigers were most active just after first light and at dusk. Bleary-eyed we were picked up by our jeep driver and made the short journey to the outer park. I had set off with high hopes of a tiger encounter that day.

As we followed the dusty tracks through the park it became apparent it would be extremely hard to spot a tiger in this dense brush.

Our guide explained by following fresh tiger tracks and listening out for the Gray Langurs alarm calls we had a higher chance of spotting any potential tigers. After a few hours of visiting different locations, we stopped and stretched our legs, our guide told us to stay near the jeep!

Left image, Rufous Treepie - Right image, White-Throated Kingfisher.

As we hadn't spotted any tigers I continued to photograph another wildlife present in the park which was great but my time in the park was limited to 3 days. 5 hours later and all the tiger hot spots covered we were yet to see one and I was feeling slightly deflated. Our guide assured us an encounter was on the cards.

Fresh Tiger tracks only a couple of hours old, the preferred prey of a tiger and a Peacock.

Once back in the dusty town I set off with my camera to photograph the troop of grey langurs which had been hanging around our B&B. After one of the worst meals I had ever had , we went to bed and set out alarms for 5 am again.

Troop of Grey Langurs living on the boundary of the park.

Day 2.

With the early morning mist floating over the surrounding landscape we made the journey back to the park to continue our search for a Bengal Tiger.

Our driver explained poaching was a real problem in the park with 15 tigers disappearing in the past two years. Of these missing tigers, five have disappeared in the past six months. The park doesn’t really have any boundaries for tigers and people so both can enter and exit the park at will. With this depressing news on my mind, I really thought an encounter with a tiger would be a pipe dream and not a reality.

We were coming to the end of our first outing and our driver's radio suddenly crackled.There was a report of a sighting of a female tiger close to our location. We scrambled back down the road and I managed to see and photograph (the tail) of the female walking down a dry creek bed.

We raced ahead of the big cat and parked up on a high vantage point looking back down into the dry creek bed and waited. Our guide told us tigers use dry creeks as highways as it's easier for them to travel around.

For what seemed like an eternity we waited. Just as we were about to give up, the tiger calmly strolled passed us in the creek below. It was quite a distance away but with my telephoto lens Canon 100-400mm I was able to frame her in the shot. I waited for the tiger to reach a certain spot which was free of distracting branches and shrubs and started taking photos.

Female Tiger walking along a dry creek bed.

The whole encounter probably lasted 10 seconds or so, but it felt like slow motion for me and my heart almost burst out of my chest. Seeing this beautiful big cat alk past with elegance and authority was a truly special moment and one which will live with me forever.

Day 3.

Now I had obtained an image of a tiger, I was extremely happy, the pressure was off. So today I was going to enjoy the whole experience and if we saw a tiger it would be a bonus. The mist shrouded the landscape again giving it a magical feel as we drove to the park.

Time seemed to pass really quickly on the final day in the park and I was really hoping for one more tiger encounter.Suddenly from out of nowhere, a female tiger appeared from the brush and slowly walked right passed our jeep, I couldn't believe how close she was.

A close encounter with one of the Tigers in Ranthambore National Park.

I actually froze for a couple of seconds. Once I had regained my composure I started photographing this beautiful animal. It was the perfect end to my trip to Ranthambore National Park and I had 2 tiger encounters in 3 days. The whole experience was EPIC and will resonate with me forever.

Female Tiger smelling a recent scent marking on a tree, this is territorial behavior between Tigers.

Ranthambore National Park is a unique environment and one of the last tiger strongholds in India. If you get the chance I really recommend a visit to this place.

Migration on a miniature scale.

My parents live in Somerset and have a small pond which was full of tadpoles. I had been following their treacherous journey from when they were just a couple of clumps of spawn in early March.

Using my camera on the floor gives me a much more engaging image of the frog, we are eye to eye with the subject.

I had been watching the 4 stages of metamorphosis over the past weeks and finally, the tadpoles were starting to look more like frogs, even if a few had small tails.

Frog in the 3rd stage of metamorphosis, it still has a small tail attached to its body.

I knew at some point they would be making the journey from the relative safety of the pond. They would need a safe dark and damp place to hide, feed and grow. This location would be underneath my parent's oil tank.

I had a call from my mother telling me that some of the small frogs had started making the journey and if I wanted to capture this with my camera I needed to get there fast! The next day I arrived at dawn with my camera equipment and a small bendable light which would be my makeshift flash unit.

Left image. Life just below the waterline in my parent's pond. There is still tadpole swimming around. Right image. Using my flexible touch to illuminate the darker areas of the pond.

This light came in really handy. Because its small and the head is bendable. I can get it in really small locations and I even managed to balance it on a Lilly pad to illuminate the dark areas.

As the sun started to rise and the air was still damp with moisture, I could make out tiny little dark shapes hopping from the pond into the grass and making the long journey to safety under the oil tank.

One of the larger frogs just inches away from safety near the oil tank.

Once I had positioned my self on the floor at the frogs level, I got to work tracking and trying to photograph these tiny amphibians. Photographing these little frogs proved extremely tricky for two reasons. 1st they were tiny so finding them in the grass and focusing on them to take a picture was hard. 2nd the weather conditions were changing constantly. I was shooting manually so each time the weather changed I would have to re-adjust my settings and lighting. My aperture was set to ƒ/2.8 giving an extremely short depth of field, as I wanted the frogs in focus (just the upper part) and the surrounding area blurred out.

Finally, I started to get some interesting images with the frog in focus and the background a blurred mass of green. As the day heated up the migration of frogs slowed. One of the later frogs to attempt the journey wasn’t so lucky and the heat from the sun and the distance to the oil tank was too great.

One of the unlucky frogs not able to make the journey alive.

I headed back the next day with the same approach. I was surprised to find over half of the frogs had left the pond. Multiple frogs would of made the journey under darkness as it was cooler and safer to travel.

Small frog resting for a moment on my parents lawn.

There was still activity and I adopted the same technique of lying on the floor with my 105mm macro lens and again using the touch. As the torch was flexible, I could stand it up on its base and direct the light to the frogs quickly.

You really get a sense of scale with this tiny frog resting on a blade of grass.

These frogs were tiny about the size of my fingernail on my little finger. Some were fully formed and some were still in their 3rd stage of metamorphosis with stubby tails.

Late evening and this tiny frog suddenly break the surface of the pond. Frogs tend to move on mass during the night.

They were so small that the grass in the garden would have looked like a jungle to them, as they hopped and crawled over the individual blades. It was amazing to watch as these frogs knew exactly where to move for sanctuary.

This tiny frog has made the first part of the journey over the lawn now it's negotiating the garden path.

I witnessed a similar event at Priddy Pools in Somerset a few years back. Hundreds of tiny toads were making a journey away from a grassy area back to the main pond.

This frog is crawling out of its pond and starting the journey away from the relative safety of its pond.

It was a busy day with many walkers out enjoying the sun. Most were unaware what was happening right under their feet. Lots of these tiny toads were trampled on that day.

My final image and the one I am most pleased with. Its tiny face peering out between blades of grass.